Preparing Fulbright and Getting to Know Kunming

The past week has been a very unorganized, but exciting part of the year. I moved into a hostel, called “The Hump,” and have been slowly structuring my new life here in Kunming. I first met with my Fulbright advisor, Dr. Wu, who is absolutely wonderful. She was my advisor two years ago during my study abroad program in Kunming, so we already have a close relationship. She would like me to begin my fieldwork in February. I’ll be busy reading fieldwork manuals until then.

I have also been apartment hunting for more than a week. One day, I was lost trying to find an apartment off of  Hong Mountain East Street when a very friendly foreigner came out of nowhere and asked in perfect English, “Do you need help?” Of course, he was a fellow Minnesotan! Go Minnesota nice! Turned out I planted myself right in front of “The Slice of Heaven Cafe,” where he just came out of. When he heard I was looking for a place to live, he mentioned that the owner of the Slice of Heaven is looking for a temporary roommate. After I checked out the first apartment, I came back to the cafe and talked to the owner. She was busy and just gave me her keys. She said in a New Zealand accent, “You can find it yourself. Not too difficult.” I used the keys to enter a nice, tropical forested complex. I found the apartment building and took an elevator to the eleventh floor. I opened the door to find the nicest apartment I have yet to see in China. The view from the living room showed Kunming cityscape and a tall, red mountain in the distance. I opened my room to find a queen sized bed and a spectacular view of Kunming and the distant mountains…I’ll take it! (Also, I’m paying the same amount that I would be paying at the hostel every night. Good deal!)

At the end of each day, after meeting my professor or looking at multiple apartments, I often spend the rest of daylight walking around Kunming. I’m trying to get to know it, understand the bus system, and meet people:

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Visiting the Bird and Flower District

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Selling Birds

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One of the Gates in the City Center

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Visiting Cui Lake, The Seagulls are Back

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My New Neighborhood, Hong Mountain District

One of my favorite moments so far this week, is when I got lost looking for the police station in Hong Mountain District. I literally hiked up the “mountain” (considered a tall hill) and went through a maze of alleyways to finally find the station in a quaint part of the neighborhood. Through this experience, I got to know my new neighborhood. I also ran into a delicious gaifan restaurant and had lunch.

Since I don’t have many friends in Kunming at the moment (except for the other Fulbrighters), I have been quite eager forming connections with people who live in this district. For instance, I visited a bedmaker to help me sew a new bed spread. During this visit, I got to know a women and her mother, as well as the bedmaker. We talked about what spread they should choose for the baby (who was going to be born in 9 days!). At the end of the visit, the bedmaker said, “You made a new friend, so here’s a discount for your sheet!” I took that as an endearing comment. I hope to run into that women again and her new baby!

I also found a frisbee group here in Kunming. After ultimate, we met up later and played boardgames. I’m slowly finding my place. I think I’m going to like it here.

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One thought on “Preparing Fulbright and Getting to Know Kunming

  1. Deb O'Connor

    I love reading your posts! I feel like I’m wandering through the city with you. Great photos!

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